If you wear glasses, you just might!

by Bea Lueck

Do you spend several hours a day on the computer and find your eyes red, strained or experiencing blurry vision? Do you suffer from neck, shoulder or back pain? If so, you may have CVS or Computer Vision Syndrome.

There are several causes of CVS, including the inability of your eyes to shift focus from your keyboard to monitor. Or, if you are over 40, age-related presbyopia – the normal age-related loss of near-focusing ability – could be to blame. There is also a third cause – progressive prescription glasses.

Progressive lens are designed with multiple vision zones for distance, intermediate and near vision focus. Instructions for wearing progressive lens include, “Point your nose directly at what you’d like to see and bring it into focus by moving your chin up or down.” In other words, “Act like a bobble-head to see clearly!” And while this type of lens works well for driving (distance) or reading a book (near), it isn’t very effective for computer use.

The problem with extended computer-time is the distance of your monitor to your chair. Monitors are, on average, 20-26 inches from your eyes. Progressive lenses often do not offer a large enough area for the intermediate vision needed for your monitor. You may find yourself tipping your head up to see out of the “reading” portion of your glasses. Over time, this may cause eye strain or neck, shoulder and back strain from the bobble-head motion and unnatural cervical spine posture.

There is a solution – computer reading glasses! Computer glasses are not regular reading glasses or “cheaters” you can buy at the corner drug store. These prescription glasses are designed specifically for computer use and for a distance of about arms-length focal point. This puts the optimum lens power for viewing your monitor in a clear, wide field without focusing effort or unhealthy posture or positions. Non-glare coating is also recommended to help reduce eye strain from extended computer-time.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of CVS, have a frank discussion with your eye care professional. Normal eye exams test your distance vision and your close reading vision of about 14 to 16 inches. Inform your doctor about your computer usage and request a test of your vision needs in the 20-26 inch range. [Editor’s note: Prior to your exam, measure the distance from your nose to your monitors in your normal chair position. My monitors are 30-inches from my chair.] 

Bifocals and progressive lenses eliminated the need for separate reading and distance glasses. But computer use has created a third requirement that isn’t normally addressed – intermediate range glasses for computer use. You may need separate computer reading glasses. If so, your aching neck will thank you for using them!